Review: When Night Is Falling (1995)

Director: Patricia Rozema | 93 minutes | drama, romance | Actors: Pascal Bussières, Rachael Crawford, Henry Czerny, David Fox, Don McKellar, Tracy Wright, Clare Coulter, Karyne Steben, Sarah Steben, Jonathan Potts, Tom Melissis, Stuart Clow, Richard W. Farrell, Fides Krucker, Thom Sokoloski, Jennifer Roblin, Jacqueline Casey, Sigrid Johnson

“When Night Is Falling” is a special film about a special love: a love of the most impossible and obstinate kind. This impossibility is threefold here. To begin with, teacher Camille and circus artist Petra lead completely different lives: settled versus adventurous, intellectual versus body-oriented. The fact that it is a lesbian love is also a stumbling block, especially given Camille’s religious background. In addition, the latter is about to marry her fiancé Martin, a man she still feels very fond of in a comradeship way.

It is not so much the story that determines the quality of “When Night Is Falling”, but more the subtle elaboration of it. Everything is tastefully done, from music to costumes to the passionate and tender sex scenes. The dialogues are usually to the point, and where words fail, Camille’s crooked smile and Petra’s expressive eyes come to the rescue. Moreover, the characters have been well thought out, so that their psychological development is always convincing. In addition, it is not difficult to empathize with these women, as endearing as they are in their loving bumbling. The romance in “When Night Is Falling” is not only in the story, but also in the setting against which it takes place.

Petra is an artist at a modern circus (with the characteristic name Sirkus or Sorts) that is located in an old warehouse. The circus practices acrobatics, ballet and juggling, all of the less orthodox kind. The warehouse itself, with its colorful decors, fairytale lighting and eccentric residents, is a romantic sanctuary for the unattached creative. The place symbolizes the (spiritual) freedom necessary for human happiness and forms a perfect contrast to the orderly environment in which Camille lives and works. Director Rozema is to be commended for the way she portrayed all this.

The drama never gets too dramatic, although the film gets slightly off track at the end. The way in which all ends are eventually tied together is also forced and lacks the subtlety of before. But even so, this film is a must-see for anyone with a little romantic blood in their veins. And whether that blood is pink or red makes no difference in this case.

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